Georgia basketball upset 14.5-point favorite Alabama 82-76 and earned its first conference win Tuesday night at Stegeman Coliseum.
The Bulldogs (6-14, 1-6 SEC) limited the sharp-shooting Crimson Tide (13-7, 4-4) to just 9 made 3-pointers on 34 attempts.
“This was not about Alabama playing down to the competition, this was Georgia bringing its ‘A’ game,” SEC Network commentator Dane Bradshaw said. “Georgia came out hot hitting the 3-pointers. The second half turned more physical, and Georgia won the majority of the 50-50 balls and earned this victory.”
The Bulldogs were becoming notorious for their ability to compete with SEC teams for the majority of the game before a bad stretch or two buried them. UGA coach Tom Crean, who likened the recurring issues to ‘Groundhog Day,’ saw his bunch stay within 10 points of an SEC opponent all game for the first time Tuesday.
“There were a couple moments ... that we had to work through, but nobody got their head down,” Crean said.
“Tonight, we didn’t see those ghosts that we sometimes see when things start to go bad for us.”
Aaron Cook led UGA with 15 points, 4 assists, and a rebound. The Gonzaga transfer scored 11 of his points in the second half.
Jaden Shackelford scored 20 points, dished out 2 assists, and grabbed 3 rebounds for Alabama. The star shooter was limited to 4 points in the second half.
The two squads traded blows in the first half. Alabama and Georgia leaned heavily on the 3-point shot, shooting 6 of 16 and 6 of 17, respectively.
A Jaxon Etter 3-pointer at the 7:37 mark gave the Bulldogs a 27-19 advantage, their largest lead of the first half.
A Noah Gurley layup at the end of the half put Alabama ahead 42-36 at intermission.
Alabama held a comfortable single-digit lead over Georgia in the second half until an Aaron Cook corner 3-pointer tied the game at 48 at the 15:45 mark. The Tide jumped back ahead, but a Kario Oquendo double-pump jam ended a 3-minute UGA drought.
A Baumann 3-pointer at the 10:29 mark pulled Georgia back within one. The Bulldogs finally took their first lead of the second half on the shoulders of 3 consecutive Jabri Abdur Rahim free throws at the 4:11 mark.
UGA utilized the foul line to turn the Tide, sinking 18 free throws in the final six minutes. Abdur Rahim accounted for 10 of those shots.
“We just had to learn how to win,” Cook said. “It’s huge for our spirits going forward and I think it gives us a lot of confidence going into this next game at Vanderbilt.”
Georgia will be back on the road against Vanderbilt at 6:00 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, Tenn.